If you're a long-time ComfortGel CPAP mask user then you might be familiar with the socket design defect which caused the headgear sockets on the original ComfortGel to break prematurely. Philips Respironics addressed this issue on the original ComfortGel, and the new and improved socket design that was introduced on the orginal ComfortGel is also featured on the new ComfortGel Blue. This is good news for CPAP users everywhere, but it's still important to know that removing the mask like it's a baseball catcher's mask can still exert a lot of force on the headgear sockets and can still break the mask. Since Philips Respironics introduced the new, reinforced headgear sockets on the original ComfortGel several months ago we've only heard of a few of them breaking. And in each case, the CPAP user has indicated s/he removes the mask by stretching the headgear instead of releasing one of the quick-release headgear clips from one of the sockets. With that said, it's worth reiterating that there's no difference in the socket design on the original ComfortGel (which was updated with the new socket design several months ago) and the new ComfortGel Blue.
One of the primary design enhancements on the new ComfortGel Blue is a redesigned exhalation port. The new exhalation port directs airflow up and away from the CPAP user and the bed partner, It's also designed to reduce noise from airflow. The presence of the new exhalation port is the easiest way to identify a ComfortGel Blue, because there's no mistaking the light gray port on the bend of the ComfortGel Blue elbow.
Another change to mask is in the forehead support pad. The new pad has been redesigned to reduce pressure points. It's softer and generally more comfortable than the forehead pad found on the original ComfortGel. It's very similar to the pad design that was first introduced on the ComfortFusion.
An enhancement that will likely go unnoticed by most CPAP users is a new design that prevents the forehead support from being removed from the mask frame. Apparently the manufacturer felt that too many forehead supports were being disconnected from the mask frame during shipping, and so they made it impossible to remove the forehead support - without breaking it, that is.
The blue gel cushion has been improved quite a bit and looks much more refined - very similar to the gel cushion on the ComfortGel Full Face Mask. Specifically, the new gel cushion doesn't have any open gel injection holes, so gel material isn't exposed. We've noticed the new gel cushion doesn't smell as much as the old gel cushion, and I suspect that it's because the gel material is actually completely sealed inside the polyethylene casing. The new gel cushion is also a bit thinner, so there appears to be less gel overall.
Another very minor difference between the original ComfortGel and the new ComfortGel Blue is the addition of the "System One Resistance Control" number on the silicone cushion. This number can be used with compatible Philips Respironics systems to allow the CPAP machine to compensate for variable resistance characteristics related to different CPAP masks. Other than the System One Resistance Control labeling, the silicone cushion is essentially unchanged.
Also unchanged is the headgear strap. Both the original ComfortGel and the new ComfortGel Blue feature Philips Respironics Premium Headgear with EZ-Peel Tabs.
We've been told by the manufacturer that the ComfortGel Blue isn't a replacement for the ComfortGel - that's it's simply a new product that will be offered alongside the original ComfortGel for the time being. Personally, I find this hard to believe. It's like Chevy continuing to manufacture the 2010 Suburban after they've released the 2011 Suburban. (Maybe our sales rep just didn't want us to send back a couple thousand original ComfortGels for replacement with the new ones!) We have seen something similar to this before, though, with the Profile Lite (when the original ComfortGel was released). Only time will tell.
The bottom line question is whether the new ComfortGel Blue is worth approximately $20 more than the original ComfortGel. We think it is, because it's a great new mask and it's still value-priced. Call or email (click the "Get Sales Price" link) to get our actual retail sales price on the mask, and don't pay attention to MSRP pricing. Check it out and let us know what you think.
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